Best Solar Design Software Guide [Updated 2022]

Best Solar Design Software

Solar power is a far more accessible source of energy. As a result, many solar power installers design and install small-scale solar power generation plants at industrial plants, commercial buildings, and even residential properties.

All of the solar installers need some kind of solar PV design software for:-

  • Determining the amount of solar energy available at a specific location, such as a building's rooftop.
  • Calculating the area on the site that is free of shadows and can be used for solar PV installation.
  • Creating a solar PV system that will generate the required solar energy.
  • Estimating solar energy production in the future.
  • Engineered drawings and reports for the planned installation.

A solar designing software facilitates the automation of solar system design, allowing solar contractors and organizations to provide their clients with quick, easy, and correct estimates. Some software allows you to model both the layout and the performance of a solar power plant system. This streamlines and speeds up the engineering, design, and sales processes, which is critical for large-scale solar systems with complex topographies. The advanced data and analytic capabilities a solar designing software provide enable project developers and designers to take advantage of economies of scale and maximize their return on investment.

Let’s now look at some of the popular solar design software used by solar PV installers:-

Solar Labs

Solar Labs is a SaaS and AI cloud-based software for solar design and sales growth. It specializes in developing software for solar installers and government bodies to create preliminary sales quotations and optimize system designs. Solar Labs were founded in 2017 and are headquartered in New Delhi.

Features:

AI-Assisted Faster Design Creation: Create designs that are simple, accurate, and quick. View your design in 3D or 2D. Discover numerous iterations and choose the best solution depending on your customer's specifications.

Smarter Energy Profiling & Modeling: Generate detailed electrical diagrams for utility-scale or domestic projects in minutes. Choose from a choice of mounting templates and panel tilt values. Draw-in barriers of any shape using the polygon tool and more.

Accurate Simulations and Shading Analysis: Easily predict your monthly, quarterly, and annual power production and losses. Simulate shading patterns for any day of the year and generate reliable heat maps.

Sales Proposals and Commercial Reports: Attract clients with thorough yet exhaustive proposals. Focus on the key growth metrics and provide multiple financial solutions in a concise manner. View your Total Savings, Payback Period, and Internal Return Rate, in one single view.

CAD Layout and SLDs: Fabricate single-line diagrams and export them as DXF files for easy construction plans.

Pricing:

  • The Lite plan costs $40/month paid annually or $80/month paid monthly. This plan includes basic project designing and report generation.
  • The Basic plan costs $67/month paid annually or $133/month paid monthly. This plan includes unlimited residential & commercial projects.
  • The Premium plan costs $100/month paid annually or $200/month paid monthly. This plan includes advanced workflows, permissions, and 3D exports.

Availability:

Solar Labs is an online Software as a Service (SaaS) and can be used on any modern browser using computers, laptops, or even mobile phones.

Website: https://thesolarlabs.com/

Rating:   4.8 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • You can make technologically-commercial proposals in just 30 minutes.
  • This software lets you create accurate 3D models and perform shadow analysis.
  • You can create both financial analysis and generation analysis using the design studio.
  • It also allows for CAD layout and PvSyst export.
Solar Labs design studio
Solar Labs software reports

Limitations:

The interface is only available in English, and no other languages are supported.

Aurora Solar

Aurora Solar develops cloud-based software that enables solar PV engineering design, provides workflow management functionality, and facilitates sales and customer acquisition for solar installers and financiers. Christopher Hopper and Samuel Adeyemo founded Aurora Solar in 2013. It has its headquarters inSan Francisco, California.

Features:

Simple and Efficient Design Interface: Users can perform detailed shading analysis and shade measurement directly in the application, drag and drop components to create system designs, and generate single line diagrams automatically. All designs are automatically checked for electrical constraints, industry best practices, and NEC rule compliance.

Easy and Automated Financial Report: It enables users to quickly determine a project's viability and easily model many of the most common financing structures. Financial models consider the project's energy profile and calculate accurate and dynamic visualizations of financial information such as cash flows, payback periods, LCOE, and bill savings.

Compelling Sales Proposals: Using the project and design data already created in Aurora, sales proposals automatically pull in the custom project and client data, 3D visuals, and financial analysis into any number of clean and professional templates, guaranteeing a consistent, yet customized experience for all clients.

Pricing:

  • The Basic plan costs $135/user/month billed annually, saving $288 per year. This plan is meant for users who want just the basics.
  • The Premium plan costs $220/user/month billed annually, saving $468 per year. This plan is meant for users with more advanced sales and design needs.

Availability:

Aurora Solar is an online SaaS company that uses aerial imagery to assess solar installation projects.

Website: https://www.aurorasolar.com/

Rating:   4.6 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • A process that used to require multiple software applications, hours of design work, and site visits, can now be completed remotely and more accurately in under 10 minutes with Aurora.
  • Solar professionals can now assess a site's potential and design the optimal PV system without leaving their desks. Aurora's effortless CAD modeling tools, remote shading analysis algorithm, and 3D LIDAR datasets make accurate PV designs simple. Horizon shading adds an additional degree of accuracy for solar production estimates.
  • Aurora's financial analysis tools can model loans, leases, PPAs, and cash payments in seconds. Your project's data and financial analysis are seamlessly pulled into a customizable sales proposal. You can get live PPA rates and apply for financing in-app.



Limitations:

Pricing and subscriptions are quite high.

HelioScope

HelioScope is a popular platform in the solar industry for designing and selling high-performance solar arrays. Designers and engineers will find it simple to use and understand. It has a plethora of features that are essential for anyone interested in solar energy. It's no surprise that many users have used this software to design solar PV systems.

Features:

HelioScope has a number of useful features as an online solar design tool. This includes the following items, which are listed below,

  • Solar Panels Layout
  • Shading Analysis
  • Single Line Diagram Export
  • 45,000 Component Library
  • Quick Design Revision
  • Google Maps Integration
  • PAN File Support
  • Unlimited Designs
  • API
  • Computer-Aided Drawing (CAD) Tools
  • Solar Energy Production Estimates
  • System Energy Loss Chart
  • 3D Design
  • Voltage Drop Calculation
  • One-Click Sharing
  • SketchUp Shading Integration
  • Wiring Selection
  • NSRDB/NREL Meteo Integration
  • Up to 5 MW Systems

Pricing:

  • The monthly plan costs $95 Per Month.
  • The annual plan costs $79 Per Month or $950 annually with 17% savings.
  • A free 30-day trial is also available.

Availability:

HelioScope is accessible through any modern browser. Since it is web-based, users can create solar PV designs using their computers, laptops, or even mobile phones.

Website: https://www.helioscope.com/

Rating:   4.5 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • HelioScope is a web-based tool, so there's no software to download and you can use it from any connected computer. Instead of buying the program, you pay a monthly or annual fee for access to the online world's most advanced telematics systems.
  • HelioScope includes a detailed wiring diagram that shows the exact location of panels, inverters, and other equipment. It then generates a detailed bill of materials.
  • It runs its simulation using weather files, shading analysis, solar module physics, wire resistance, and other factors.

Limitations:

  • There is no animation feature to demonstrate the shading feature and losses.
  • Simulating detailed graphs is not possible.

PVsyst

PVsyst is a PC software package for studying, sizing, and analyzing data from complete PV systems. It covers grid-connected, stand-alone, pumping, and DC-grid (public transportation) PV systems, as well as extensive meteo and PV system component databases and general solar energy tools. This software is designed for architects, engineers, and researchers. It is also extremely beneficial for educational training. PVsyst focuses on comprehensive and precise PV system analysis using a comprehensive set of tools.

Features:

PVSyst software has the following features:

  • System designing
  • System sizing
  • Creating a shading scene
  • It generates simulations and outcomes.
  • Model storage systems
  • Some additional features include importing data and components and getting weather data from meteonorm.
  • Simulate the ageing effect of solar modules, etc.

Pricing:

The PVsyst 7 Professional plan costs $647 per year.

It includes:

  • Unlimited features
  • Unrestricted access to components database
  • Updates included
  • Discounts on grouped orders:
    2-4 licenses : -5%
    5-9 licenses : -15%
    From 10 licenses: -20%

The Classroom plan costs $27 per year

  • Manufacturers mentioned as generic in the report
  • Print reports watermark: "Classroom"
  • Granted upon supply of an Educational program

The Student plan also costs $27 per year

  • Manufacturers mentioned as generic in the report
  • Print reports watermark: "Student"
  • Granted upon supply of a copy of a Student card

Availability:

You need to download the software from its official website and in order to use full PVsyst capabilities you have to buy a license, you can also renew subscriptions for existing licenses on their online shop.

Website: https://www.pvsyst.com/

Rating: 4.4 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • We use PVSyst to create a 3D shading scene to reflect the actual scenario and check the shadows of various objects on our solar plant, as well as the effect on generation.
  • The Simulation Reports generated by PVSyst provide us with an overview of how much energy our system can generate, what types of losses exist in our system, and an estimate of where we can improve.
  • PVSyst's advanced features include simulating storage systems, which can be useful if we need to model a system using batteries and calculate how much storage we need, how the system dynamics change with storage, and so on.

Limitations:

Designing of bifacial PV modules mounted on single-axis trackers is a challenge being faced by the designers.

Open Solar

OpenSolar is the world's first free, end-to-end solar design and sales application, providing solar professionals with a highly sophisticated, yet simple-to-use software tool that meets all of their needs, from marketing and lead management to solar system design, sales, installation, and service.

Features:

3D Design, Leading Accuracy: The fastest, simplest and most accurate 3D design tool available, making your proposals reliable and bankable from the office and in the field.

Integrated Finance Partners: Effortless selection and integration of your chosen finance providers with in-app real-time approvals, making selling easier than ever.

Proposals that Sell: Fully customizable, interactive proposals online or as a PDF.  24% sale conversion drawn from experience selling 10,000's of systems, face-to-face and over the phone.

Free of Charge: All of this is available for free to all users indefinitely.

Open API: Connect your existing CRM and business tools to our industry-leading platform. Work in the manner in which you prefer.

Pricing:

It is totally free of cost.

Availability:

It is a cloud-based app with a mobile-friendly operating environment that allows you to manage your business from any device in the office or in the field.

Website: https://www.opensolar.com/

Rating: 4.2 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • For solar power and battery storage, interactive client proposals with rich and flexible material, including movies and customer education tools, are available.
  • Customer relationship management software that includes one-click communication, document management, and digital signatures.
  • With extensive 3D design tools and automation, "SolarTouch" technology allows for high-speed mobile and tablet design in the field.
  • To assist new and established solar workers, a 24-hour online support centre with instructional resources and best-practice sharing is available.

Limitations:

Lacks modern and advanced designing features like heat and solar access.

BlueSol

BlueSol is a software for the design of photovoltaic systems in every country in the world. It allows you to perform the entire process of designing a PV system, from the preliminary assessment of producibility to the realization of the project documentation. BlueSol is a product made with a standard Microsoft interface, very easy to use but at the same time manages every detail of the PV system.

Features:

  • BlueSol Design simulates, via software, the behavior of the PV system in all its components.
  • The schematic representation allows the designer to have a precise view of the operation.
  • BlueSol Design integrates a CAD system that automatically generates the single-line electrical diagram.
  • Interactive design with a 3D view and an internet map. Automatic and optimised insertion of strings, inverters, panels, batteries and cables.
  • Economic study in depth, with options to meet the demands of many countries.

Pricing:

Not available

Availability:

It is a native software available on Windows or Mac.

Website: http://www.bluesolpv.com/dnnsite/Home.aspx

Rating:   4.1 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • Complete set of drawing features, including those of BlueCAD 2.0, available natively.
  • Easy and fast adding new features that integrate 100% with existing ones.
  • Easy integration with databases, with the possibility to enter user information directly in the drawing.
  • Ability to use the most powerful and popular development tools.

Limitations:

Lacks proper animation to demonstrate the shading feature and losses.

Pylon

Pylon solar design software is made for fast-growing solar installers. It gets premium features to design solar proposals in under 2 minutes with $0 monthly fees. Pylon is the only solar design software that does not charge a monthly fee and gives solar installers everything they need to expand their business.

Features:

  • To create lifelike suggestions, it uses high-resolution aerial footage from the past and present, which is contained in Pylon.
  • Using Pylon's 3D Solar Shading engine, identify dates of concern and track shading influence throughout the year.
  • Demonstrate demonstrable ROI for customers using technologies like NEM12 interval data analysis and load profiles.
  • Integrate eSignatures and a payment processing gateway to send solar offers and increase conversion rates.
  • With Pylon CRM, you can keep your solar deal flow going and keep client interactions under control across your entire workforce.
  • Solar CRM with full integration designed to work with your solar design software and convert proposals

Pricing:

  • Pylon Solar Design Software gives you premium features for No Monthly Fees.
  • It has a free version and offers a free trial.
  • Pylon paid version starts at $4 per project as Standard plan and $10 per project for Pro plan.

Availability:

It is an online Software as a Service (SaaS) and can be used on any modern browser using computers, laptops, or even mobile phones.

Website: https://getpylon.com/en/

Rating:   4.0 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • The user interface is sleek, well-designed, and simple to use. Pylon is popular among installers because the work area is 2D, making it easier to traverse while yet allowing you to set and modify 3D objects.
  • Another reason solar installers use Pylon is that it is the only solar design software that you can sign up for and use right away without having to use a credit card.


Limitations:

The internet map is not well optimized and displays only partial satellite images.

HOMER

HOMER (Hybrid Optimization of Multiple Energy Resources) software navigates the complexities of building cost-effective and reliable hybrid microgrid and grid-connected systems that combine traditionally generated and renewable power, storage, and load management. With over 250,000 users in 193 countries, HOMER is the established global leader for design optimization and feasibility

Features:

Powerful, Proven Optimization: Over 150,000 users around the world rely on the HOMER optimization engine. In a single pass, examine all potential combinations of system types to identify the best one for your system.

Robust Storage Model: Based on the input of thousands of customers, the HOMER storage model is the most accurate and advanced model on the market. For the course of your project, HOMER Grid properly models battery life and performance, so you know exactly what to expect.

Completely Customizable: Make your design specific to your project's requirements. Solar plus storage, generators, combined heat and power, wind, and other choices are available through HOMER Grid.

Accurate Tariff Modeling: Model complicated, unique utility tariffs anywhere in the world, or choose from our library of tariffs.

Understand and Quantify Risk: You can't predict the future, but you can calculate the cost of making a mistake. Sensitivity analyses allow you to evaluate possibilities quickly and simply, so you can see how changes and uncertainty might affect your business.

Pricing:

  • It has a 21-day free trial.
  • The monthly plan starts at $65 per month for one user and has Auto-renews.
  • The Annual plan starts at $42 per month for one user and has free training included.

Availability:

It is available as an Installed software on Windows OR cloud-hosted SaaS version.

Website: https://www.homerenergy.com/

Rating:   4.0 / 5

Ease of Use:

This software can be used to simulate numerous energy sources as well as multiple loads. Wind speed, fuel cost, and emissions fines can all be included in the simulations. It allows you to search for a location by name. However, it was not created with Solar PV in mind. As a result, some of the reports may be less thorough than those generated by other solar PV-specific technologies.



Limitations:

Lacks animation and 3D layout to show the shading feature and losses.

SolarEdge Designer

SolarEdge Designer is a free web-based application that assists solar professionals like you in reducing PV design expenses and creating winning customer bids. With this powerful selling tool, you can plan, build, and validate your SolarEdge home and commercial systems from conception to installation.

Features:

Save Time and Money: By producing the system wiring schematic, the new SolarEdge Designer allows you to simulate the system by substantially simplifying the design step, making the most of the available space on the roof, and reducing errors during installation.

Greater Customer Satisfaction: Designer allows you to construct realistic 3D simulations depending on the customer's requirements.

Modern and intuitive Platform: The platform offers a clean and lively graphic interface and can be accessed through the web with a Mac or PC. All simulations can be shared with others and sent to the end user. It's also possible to export the 3D project directly to the monitoring platform and quickly design the physical architecture of the system, making installation and maintenance much easier.

Pricing:

Free web-based tool

Availability:

It is an online Software as a Service (SaaS) and can be used on any modern browser using computers, laptops, or even mobile phones.

Website: https://www.solaredge.com/

Rating:   3.9 / 5

Ease of Use:

This is a free tool to assist commercial solar installers in lowering design expenses and incorporating appealing 3D designs into their presentations. SolarEdge designs photovoltaic projects from the very beginning to the very end, using either custom or satellite photos.


Limitations:

The look of the software feels old and outdated and needs some refining.


PV SOL

PV SOL is a dynamic simulation program with 3D visualization and detailed shading analysis for the calculation of photovoltaic systems in combination with appliances, battery systems, and electric vehicles. It has a free and a premium version. With PV SOL premium, the industry standard for photovoltaic design programs, you can design and simulate all types of modern PV systems. From the small rooftop system with a few modules to medium-sized systems on commercial roofs to large solar parks - PV SOL premium supports you with numerous tools for design and simulation.

Features:

  • 3D shading animation.
  • Module coverage on multiple surfaces with millimetre precision
  • Module appearances, such as cell and frame colour, can be altered.
  • 3D images into client reports.
  • It creates 3D buildings and objects based on imported floor maps and plan drawings.
  • Copy 3D buildings with all features and inverter configurations.
  • Make regular and irregular 3D polygon structures.
  • 3D files can be imported.
  • Subdivide strings to create polystrings.
  • Save function that is both automatic and adjustable.
  • 64 bit in 2D for much faster processing.
  • 3D visualisation dimensioning is exportable as (*.dxf, *.xml, *.pdf, *.png) to most CAD programs.

Pricing:

  • A Free version of the software is available.
  • A Premium version of the software is also available at a cost of $1442. The full license includes lifetime unrestricted use, and 6 months software maintenance and support.

Availability:

It is available as a software and can be installed on windows.

Website: https://pvsol.software/en/

Rating:   3.9 / 5

Ease of Use:

PV SOL is a 2D solar software design tool for modelling the performance of photovoltaic systems. This is a good alternative if you don't want to use 3D model shading and landscape visualisation.





Limitations:

The subscription is quite expensive.

PV F-chart

PV F-CHART is a comprehensive photovoltaic system analysis and design program. For each hour of the day, the program produces monthly average performance estimates. The calculations are based on methods established at the University of Wisconsin that account for statistical fluctuation in radiation and load using solar radiation utilizability.

Features:

  • Weather data for over 300 locations.
  • Weather data can be added.
  • extremely fast execution.
  • Hourly load profiles for each month
  • Variation in statistical load
  • Buy/sell cost differences.
  • Time-of-day rates for buy/sell
  • Life-cycle economics with cash flow
  • Variation in monthly parameters
  • English and SI units
  • Graphical and numerical output

Pricing:

  • The single-user and one-time Student license cost $400.
  • The single-user and one-time Academic license cost $600.

Availability:

It is available as a software and can be installed on windows.

Website: https://fchartsoftware.com/

Rating:   3.2 / 5

Ease of Use:

This is more of a collection of macro-enabled spreadsheets than sophisticated design software. It's a simple tool that requires manual data entry for each parameter. There isn't much automation, and there aren't any wizards. The software comes with 300 locations. However, there is no way to import weather data from popular websites like TMY3.

Limitations:

  • No animation and 3D view layout.
  • There is no option to include module or inverter data in the calculation.

Solarius

Solarius is a professional Solar PV calculator software for designing photovoltaic systems that is already in use by thousands of experts. For exact financial and technical feasibility assessments, the full, dependable, and novel tool for grid-connected PV system design combined with a wide range of energy storage system types.

Features:

  • Analytics & Reporting.
  • Graphs & Charts.
  • Design tools.
  • Library. Modules, inverters and batteries component libraries supporting all design stages.
  • Electronic interface and authentication.
  • Effects. Calculate the effects of PV shading from photo-panorama surveys.

Pricing:

The subscription plan starts at $7.8 per month onwards.

Availability:

It is available as a software and can be installed on windows.

Website: https://www.accasoftware.com/en/solar-design-software

Rating:   3.1 / 5

Ease of Use:

  • Objects from parametric PV systems are modelled in 3D.
  • Photovoltaic shading can be calculated immediately from a photo.
  • PV panels, inverters, and batteries, as well as wiring diagrams and financial analysis tools, are all available in large libraries.



Limitations:

  • The look of the software feels old and outdated and needs some refining.
  • Lacks modern features such as heat map and solar access.

Conclusion:

Solar software is an important tool for solar power deployment, especially in the early days of the industry when solar PV, batteries, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles became mainstream. Now more than ever, the solar industry needs a solution, and software vendors must be at the forefront with the latest tools to solve the solar energy challenge.

Consider the availability of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and ubiquitous cloud computing. Oddly enough, long-standing searches for features that are as important to post-installation customer support as operations and maintenance (O&M) have yielded few long-standing searches. This highlights the potential for growth and improvement in the solar software sector.

Making the right choice when looking for the best PV software will make a meaningful and long-term impact to your business.